Mercedes Benz 230SL

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Mercedes Benz 230SL

1963 - 1967
6 cyl. overhead cam, mechanical fuel injection
2195 cc
170 bhp
4 spd. man / 4 spd. auto
Top Speed:
124 mph / 200 km/h
Number Built:
5 star
Mercedes 230SL
The 230, 250 and 280 SL model Mercedes are still regarded today as the pinnacle of German styling, quality and engineering. Always popular with women, these fabulous cars boasted fine handling, road holding and a surprisingly sporty auto transmission.

The SL designation (or "Super Light") was first used on the more powerful Mercedes 300SL "Gullwing" and 300SL "Roadster" of the 1950's, although these models were far heavier than their later counterparts.

Initial production of the 230 SL commenced in March 1963 with a removable "Pagoda" steel roof panel and a 150 bhp straight six engine with Bosch injection.

Although the engine was "borrowed" from the 220 SE, Daimler Benz engineers extensively modified it by boring it out to 2,306 cubic centimeters (roughly 140 cubic inches), then adding unique manifolding, a more aggressive cam and bigger valves.

Post modification, the 230 SL's in-line six cylinder produced 170 horsepower (at 5,600 rpm) and 159 foot-pounds of torque.

The 4 speed transmission lever was located on the floor and, in keeping with the boulevard cruisers who would make up a great part of the buyers for such a vehicle, an automatic version was also available.

The braking system featured a two-circuit servo with discs at the front and drums at the rear. Power steering was also available as an option, but the feature for which it is most famous is the one you are least likely to see on a sunny day - the slightly converse hard-top that gave the car its now famous nick name "Pagoda".

Much maligned, (although probably because it was little understood), was the 230SL's swing axles- dubbed "single-low-pivot". The suspension featured a strut suspended from the body that supported a single joint close to the differential.

Long half-axles, each located by a trailing arm and sprung by a coil, extended to each wheel, pivoting on this nearly central point. Combined with the wide rear track, the long half-shafts minimized camber change in cornering, allowing smooth, predictable handling even on the relatively narrow tires of the day.

For avid car spotters the easiest way to recognise a 230SL from its larger engined cousins (apart from the boot vehicle identification) are the solid chrome wheel rims. In its 10 year production run its styling barely altered. In 1967 after nearly 20,000 sales the 230 was replaced by the 250 SL.

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Also see:

Mercedes SL Heritage
Mercedes 230SL Specifications
Mercedes 230SL Advertisements
Mercedes-Benz Heritage
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